Dr Jules Cotard described an unusual mental condition in the 19th century termed Cotard's Syndrome, where the sufferer believes, in effect, that he or she does not exist.
Parmenides, a Greek philosopher took up the question of Belief vs. Truth In his opinion truth lies in the perception that existence is, and error in the idea that non-existence also can be. Nothing can have real existence but what is conceivable; therefore to be imagined and to be able to exist are the same thing, and there is no development. This is a ultimately nihilistic philosophy, much like the perception of a Cotard's Syndrome sufferer. Parmenides strove to contradict Heraclitus, who maintained that everything changes. Parmenides is probably not as well known as his disciple, Zeno, who influenced Socrates, and propounded Monism, or that the world does not contain more than one thing. Per Zeno, the senses give only the perception, and not reality itself. The classical example he gave is known as Zeno's Paradox, although he proposed over 40 paradoxes.
The Racecourse: Imagine a racecourse of a given length, say 100m. The runner starts at the beginning of the racecourse and reaches the goal in a given time. In this example of motion, the runner traverses a series of units of distance, foot perhaps. Zeno holds, that each unit of distances can be divided into smaller distances, 1/2 foot, 1/4 foot, 1/8 foot and so on, until at last we have an infinite number of distances. How can the runner traverse an infinite number of distances in a finite amount of time?
The modern world, with it's single-focus on one power, and especially currently on Nov 2, 2004, is Monistic to an extreme not seen before in history. Appropriately enough to the paradox cited above, tomorrow is also Melbourne Cup Day in Australia.
cotard's syndrome - a blog provides a humorous example of this with the following entry:
2 reasons why Tuesday November 2 is an important day:
1 - Melbourne Cup Day - A great excuse to skip uni and work, get dressed up, head to Ascot, drink champagne and lose lots of money. It's my duty as an Australian, in fact it'd be un-Australian if I didn't.
2 - The U.S. Presidential elections - The election to decide the leader of Australia for the next four years.
I'm hoping that Pacific Dancer and John Kerry are the first past the post in their respective events.
That's actually a dis-proof of Monism, in that there will be other things happening tomorrow, and the world will go on. Other events on November 2:
1917: Balfour Declaration
1947: Flight of the Spruce Goose
1988: The Morris Worm
It's also All Souls Day, referenced this Sunday in Dead Like Me
and most significantly, it's Australia's biggest Tuesday, Melbourne Cup Day
In Melbourne, Cup Day is the peak of the Spring Racing Carnival, when champagne and canapés, huge hats and race track fashions sometimes overshadow the business of the day - horse racing.
Said American writer, Mark Twain, on a visit: "Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me."
The current odds for the top 5, with 25 horses in the fray.:
MELBOURNE CUP MARKET
Flemington, 3.10pm, tomorrow
$4.25 Makybe Diva
$6.50 Vinnie Roe
$11 Pacific Dancer
$12 She's Archie
$15 Media Puzzle
The winner gets (AUD) $2700000 and trophies of $80000 to owner $8500 to trainer $8500 to jockey $3000 to strapper. That's for the Australian race, of course.
Whoever wins, in the US and Australia, will carry the hopes and aspirations of millions of people. Ultimately, winner takes all, and since there are indeed winners in this world, every winner disproves Zeno's Paradox in effect.